A glowing red sign read “Enter, Be You” in front of a large wooden door. The room was humming with over a hundred voices. Jordan Viera walked into the middle of people sitting at glass tables, chewing on edamame beans, lounging on straw woven couches with mandolins or perched on stools drinking tall cocktails.
“We want to create a space here that transcends gender and race, socioeconomic status and all these borders we put between ourselves,” he said over the microphone. Viera welcomed the room of artists, poets, musicians, waiters and observers to the show featuring anyone with any art to express.
As the found of Spoken and Heard, Viera hosts shows to facilitate performance poetry among other art forms, it’s an open mic without a competitive edge. Viera took a year off from the Ryerson Image Arts program to work on a few projects from live art shows, that have been growing in demand, to documentary film making. His organization works to give space and voices to artists in Toronto, without definitions or restrictions imposed.
Last Sunday night at House of Moments on Carlaw Avenue, an arts venue with eastern fusion cuisine, Spoken and Heard kicked of their 12th event called Evolution of Consciousness. “The coming of age is not just professional, its emotional. Spoken word accelerates that process and shows the ability for arts to be therapeutic,” Viera said. Along with a team of artists and sponsors, Viera hosts events like this every three months in different spaces with different themes.
Spoken word performances have given Viera more than an emotional outlet; poetry carved him a career path. He has been dedicating himself to facilitating other artists, building networks and is working towards more motivational speaking. In his spare time, Viera is working on a documentary film that tracks the spoken word scene in Toronto, observing the process of artists becoming self-sustaining entrepreneurs.
Spoken and Heard not only organizes events, they are involved in using performance poetry to educate youth. “Education is a large part of spoken word. It gets past that wall that kids put up,” Viera said.
The last poem Viera wrote was called Dirty Laundry. It speaks to the process of neighbors hiding from others, hiding their mistakes from each other and the disconnect that it creates between people. “No one wants to identify with that, but we need to accept who we are,” he said.